How Dental Practitioners Help With the Fight Against Mouth Cancer

Dentist Blog

Over the course of a 16-year study in Australia, almost 61,000 cases of mouth cancer were detected. This included cases of lip, oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. Among the diagnostic processes in place to try and detect mouth cancers as early as possible are things like screening programs for high-risk groups, public awareness campaigns and the work of general medical practitioners. In addition to these approaches, dental professionals have a big part to play. This includes dentists, periodontists and dental nurses who can all often be the first to spot the signs of an oral form of cancer. What does the average dentist do to spot potential problems?

Cancer Inspections During Check-Ups

You might not realise it, but every time you visit your dentist for a routine check-up, he or she is not simply looking at the state of your teeth and trying to spot cavities or the build-up of things like plaque. Among the processes that a dentist will go through during an examination is a check for signs of cancer.

Oral cancer tends to take hold in the cells of the mouth, the tongue or the throat. As such, any abnormalities that are present in this part of the body may only become apparent when someone is able to look directly into your mouth, such as a dental practitioner during a check-up. Foregoing a regular appointment with your dentist and only turning up when you have a problem, like a toothache, may mean that mouth cancer is picked up too late when the treatments on offer may be less successful.

What Do Dentists Look For?

As well as a visual inspection for unusual cell growth in your mouth which might indicate that a tumour is developing, your dentist may feel for lumps or odd shapes in your mouth tissue using their hands. Bear in mind that this may not just be inside your mouth but could also involve them placing their hands on your neck, head or cheeks. When attempting to diagnose mouth cancer, a dental professional may also shine a light inside your mouth because they are looking for discoloured tissue or sores which present in unusual ways within your mouth.

Mouth Cancer Treatments

If you are diagnosed with a mouth cancer, then you will usually be referred to a medical specialist in this field. Sometimes radiotherapies are chosen as the best means of getting rid of the unwanted cancer cells in the mouth. There again, surgery to remove the problem area is also often recommended. It depends on the nature and the extent of the cancer. Chemotherapy is another treatment option open to doctors. Key to all three approaches is dealing with the mouth cancer early, which is why dentists are so important in the fight against this disease.


10 July 2018

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.